No Christmas in Baghdad

by Jeremy Reynalds
The last of Baghdad and Mosul’s Christian population are packing up their cars and fleeing for their lives.
In an article for National Review Online (NRO), Nina Shea (director of the Hudson Institute’s Center on Religious Freedom) commented that an article in the New York Times reported that the Sunni terrorists who claimed responsibility for the horrific bombing of a Baghdad Syriac Catholic church packed with Sunday worshipers earlier this year are vowing to kill Christians “wherever they can reach them.”
Moreover, Shea commented, the Shiite government of Iraq is doing almost nothing to protect or support the militia-less Christians.
Shea said that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent federal agency on which she serves, has pointed to the general indifference of Iraq’s government, which “creates a climate of impunity” for these Christians’ attackers.
Shea said the Iraqi government also discriminates against and marginalizes these victims in the provision of essential government services. She said that Diana Gorgiz, a Christian now finding refuge within the walls of one of Iraq’s ancient monasteries, told the Times that the Iraqi army told her family after an attack on her home in late November, “We cannot protect you.”
Shea said while the Times reports that more than half of Iraq’s 1.4 million Christians have fled the country since 2003, this is an estimate the U.N. has cited for years. The actual percentage of Christian refugees, she said, is likely far greater.
In a reference to the fate of Iraq’s Jewish population, which stands at eight souls, down from a third of Baghdad’s population in the 1940′s, Shea said Nassir Sharhoom, 47, told the Times, “It’s exactly what happened to the Jews.”
He fled last month to the Kurdish capital, Erbil, with his family from Dora, a once mixed neighborhood in Baghdad.
Sharhoom added, “They want us all to go.”
Shea said that the obliteration from Iraq of its ancient Christian presence – and with it the reality of religious freedom and pluralism – is an unintended consequence of the U.S. invasion, but has never been factored in as a U.S. strategic concern.
Shea added that there is no U.S. policy, not even a safe-haven or refugee policy, designed specifically to help Iraq’s Christians as they confront religious cleansing.